Week 9/ Stepping into the Zendo - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 12-06-2004, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dear Writing Mama's,

Over the weekend, I read Natalie Goldberg's new book, The Great Failure. On page 129, she writes "No good or bad. No criticism,blame-also no praise. That is how we were trained by Roshi. In a world of bonuses,competition,fear of failure, yearning for applause,receiving evaluations,grades,tests,reproaches and condemnations, it was actually frightening to enter the zendo, where these things did not apply. Who was I, if I wasn't running after affirmation and dodging negation? A crow just crowed; a flower just bloomed."

I was immensely moved by this passage and wanted to share it with you. Can we write in this same way? Meet the page with no expectation,no ambition. Move into this moment and reach into our thoughts, feelings,stories and silence and face ourselves in the writing?

If last weeks postings are an indication, I would say that the answer is "yes". It was such a relief to read the work straight through with no commentary. It was powerful to see the voices emerging with such strength and honesty.

Please forgive me for changing the "rules" so much. This is the first internet writing group I've ever led and I am also finding my way. It has been interesting for me to have to go inside and learn to trust myself and my intuition and know that whoever resonates with my vibe will keep working with the group and those that don't will fall away.I too have the "people pleasing" gene and I am challenged by the fact that I cannot please everyone.

I really like the format of just writing and posting without commentary. I was planning on giving feedback on one of the pieces but find myself reluctant. As far as I'm concerned they are all as they should be. That does not mean that you cannot keep evolving with them. It's just that I realize the what I do best is to give the space for the voices to be heard.

With that said, I am going to start a second thread each week for those of you who wish to get feedback from each other. This was suggested by one of the members and it seems like a good idea. I do not wish to cut you off from each other in dialogue.

O.k; one more quote from Natalie's book(which I highly reccomend!!!):
"Look over your shoulder. No one's there. No one cares whether you write or not.You must step forward, pick up the pen and begin. If you do, maybe beings seen and unseen will help.But, don't wait around for that. Get to work."


Week 8

* Continue freewriting on topics from last week that will be pieced together as your Birth Story.

*Write a ten minute freewrite on "failure"

* Write a fifteen minute freewrite on "2004 has been about..........."

* Write your intentions for the New Year beginning with "I want to create......" (post this on your desk at home)

* take a walk. Meditate on the question " what do I really know?" Come home and write the answer in a fifteen minute freewrite

Bonus * Read "The Long Quiet Highway" by Natatlie Goldberg. If you've already read it, go straight to her new book, "The Great Failure". Enjoy!

Blessings to all,
Tanya
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#2 of 24 Old 12-06-2004, 05:41 PM
 
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I don't want to feel like I've failed myself or anyone else. Rejection is not failure. Not trying is failure. Failure is not trying. For example, I have failed to clean my house today...This freewrite is going nowhere. I am failing at this freewrite, because this is something I really don't like writing about. I don't believe in failure but I'm scared of failing.

I feel like a failure when my self-confidence is low and my anxiety is high. When there are older, more accomplished, more sophisticated people around I feel suddenly too young, too naive, too pretty, too fat, too whatever to get the job done. Too much negativity and not enough faith equal failure. Not speaking up, not doing what I need to while I'm here on this planet, not living up to my potential, or not bringing my kids up to their potential; this would be failure for me. But, even if I failed in these important aspects of my life, it would not kill me. And who's to measure "living up to" one's potential? I know that if I believe in myself, I will not fail. If I believe in my children, they will learn to believe in themselves. It all comes down to faith or fear. I choose faith. I'll have to remember that the next time anxiety comes around and chokes my heart. I'll have to remember that I believe...
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#3 of 24 Old 12-06-2004, 11:15 PM
 
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You can't buy failure. You can't buy your way out of it, either. Is failure something one does, or something one doesn't do? Can you fail at something if you have never even attempted to do it? Is cowardice failure? Is failure simply the opposite of success? Can they give you a medal for failing?

Failing can be a good thing. Failing to commit suicide can result in getting help out of a dark pit of despair. Is it possible to fail if you don't quit? If you die trying to do something, and the task isn't accomplished, is that worth something, or are you a failure? Am I a failure? Can such a measure be made while one lives? Can it be made after death? If in a hundred years no one knows I ever existed, am I a failure? Or is that better than being remembered as, say, Hitler is? If even my direct descendants don't know I ever existed, my name, who I was, is that failure? Or is it only failure if I have no descendants? Yet if one has no decendants but is remembered, might that be called success? Surely Mother Theresa wasn't a failure. Her work was a pail of water poured on a dry plant in the desert. Perhaps she is successful as long as she is remembered by others who carry on her work.

Once my idea of success was to escape this sorry world and go build someplace new and better. Then I grew up and figured out that the ship wasn't going to lift in my lifetime, so the best I can hope for is to make things a little better for others. Perhaps failure is simply regret.

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#4 of 24 Old 12-07-2004, 02:10 AM
 
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2004 has been about changes. Drastic changes for our family. Early in the year, we decided to move back to southern California where ouf families woudl be closer. My husband w2as promised a job from an old friend, and he quit his job, packed up and left. The job never appeared, and when we realized that we now had no income, and were still paying rent, I packed up the house and we all came down. At least that way we were together. At first, my husband stayed with his sister, and the kids and I stayed with my parents. That didn't last long. We began to spend more and more time at my sister's, and eventually moved our stuff there. It was difficult for all of us. Dh got a job- a good job that he liked. Much better than th eoen that he was promised. We moved into a motel room in the city where we wanted to buy a house. I think that was th elongest three months of my life. So many times I thought we were not going to get the house. It hung on such a thin thread for so long. Finally the house was ours, and we could move. Unpacking and replacing all of our thigns was so bittersweet to me. Each box made me relive those difficult months that we had spent getting here. There had been times that I did not think our family woudl survive intact. And there were certainly days that I did not think we woudl ever own a home. FInally getting there was surreal. ONce we were settled, we decided that it was time to get the kids those pets they had been wanting. A cat for my daughter- a dog for my son. They had been aiting so long for these furry friends. We went to an animal shelter one Friday, and my son chose a dog. He was cute, and seemed lik a great dog for us. I expected a shelter dog to have issues, but this dog had a lot. He was not housebroken at all, didn't know any basic commands, was afraid of the leash, and worst of all he bit and chewed constantly. We worked dilligently on his issues, and after almost two weeks it was apparent that the aggresison towards the children was not going away. In fact- it was getting worse. We woudl have to bring him back to the shelter. It was very difficult for me- I had grown attatched ot the dog. We got an "exchange" on the biting dog, and a few days latyer we went back and got a cat. The cat turned out to be very sweet and a good match for the family. Except she didn't liek the litter that we bought. After mixing in a different type of litter, she began to use it. The we adopted another dog. This one was a much better match for our family. She sleep on my son's bed, and is very mellow. Now the trauma with my extended family starts. My sister has suffered from mental illness molst of her life. She has not been able to work for a few years, and everyday life is really a struggle for her much of the time. Recently though, she has seemed really out of control. She had decided to start "dating" again. She has been separated from her husband for about a year. Apparantly her idea of dating was just to have lots of sexual partners. Her 16 yr old dd whos' bedroom is right below my sister's complained about the noise, and her two roomates have threatened to move out. It doesn't seem to have stopped though. her roomates are paying her for their share of the bills, but the bills are not getting paid. Nobody knows where the money is. My parents had to take her daughter and have her live with them for now. I don't see the solution in that. But I can see that the next year will also be one of changes for my family.
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#5 of 24 Old 12-07-2004, 07:28 AM
 
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I close my eyes to meditate on the word... my fingers stroke the keys without really any thought... I repeat to myself ... "failure... failure...."

Einstein was a failure... edison was a failure... their teachers disgraced them

I don't think it is necessarily a shame to fail. Lincoln failed many times before he succeeded.

I guess it all depends on how you look at, define the word. You see, to me... a failure is one who never really tried to begin with. Who gave up, threw up his hands at the very first indication of a challenge. You stagnate, even shrivel, when you refuse to take on new challenges. to me, that is the ultimate failure.

When one tries repeatedly to figure something out, to take on a new task, and has difficulties, that's not failure... that's creating new synaptic paths in your brain, neurons are firing left and right, backwards and forwards, you are using your head! even if you're not necessarily succeeding at the task at hand, you are using your brain... and becoming more You. how can that be considered failing?

If i were a teacher and a student handed me a paper that was grammatically incorrect in almost every way possible.... but still showed that they paid attention and tried to do the best they could... showed improvemetn from the last paper they handed me... i couldn't look them in the eye and tell them they failed.

Our society seems to "grade" too much on perfection. We live in crackerbox housees, drive flashy new cars, work soul-sucking jobs just to pay off our credit cards (and sell our family heirlooms on ebay to buy food for the kids)... all for what? our own personal happiness? haha, no... to fit in. to fit in, more specifically, with society's standards of "perfection" ... so that others don't see us as a failure, but as a success.

A bunch of horse hockey to me... I grew up in poverty, and I will continue to live in poverty. Poverty, that is, according to the federal government's definition. I can cook, garden, make my own clothes ... I can get by with the bare necessities from the grocery store and still lead a healthy and fulfilling life. And to me, that is perfection. I don't need some yuppie mom next door telling me to wear my baby b/c Dr. Sears says it's the best thing, or that organic food is healthier b/c my kids won't get cancer... I will wear my baby b/c it makes me and my baby happy and I will make my own organic baby food b/c it's a) cheaper and b) more satisfying.

Perhaps we should be asking what it means to succeed, rather than fail? I like to go with Dr. King's words.... "A truly successful man is one who leaves the world behind a better place than he found it." It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose, whether you fail or succeed...

My world is getting better every day.

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#6 of 24 Old 12-07-2004, 07:50 AM
 
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Oh, this one should be easy. I mean, I spent all kinds of time at the beginning of the year getting ready for the changes that would come. 2003, I realized after the fact, was about growth and adaptation.... 2005, I have a feeling, will be about reinventing myself. But what about 2004? It should be easy....

This time last year, I sat around writing poems, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes... musing, mulling over my own unrest, dissatisfaction. "What is it?" I asked myself over and over.... I'd learned that anger was not an enemy, nor a friend... I'd learned that I didn't have to control everything.... I'd learned that it was ok to be unhappy, and it was actually easy to let go of that unhappiness once I'd allowed it to run its course. I knew that I was going to have to put that all to practice in 2004. And I knew it would be hard.

It really wasn't. Figuring it out was the hard part. Maybe it's because my pregnant hormones have had me on such an even keel, emotionally. Normally, when I'm not pregnant, I'm as moody as they come....

In 2003, I had dreams and predictions. "2004 will be It. This will be the year... all of this personal growth is for a reason." My husband looked at me like I was nuts. I had a dream that my late grandfather came to me and told me that I was ready and I'd do just fine. I would have my chance soon enough. My husband shrugged his shoulders. He's very unattached to my spiritual world. I suppose that's what makes him such a good balance for me. I told people, I wrote in my journal... I changed my username in many of my online habitats. I was no longer a cute and cuddly muffin ... I was older, wiser... I'd gone from maiden to mother. I became Terra Madre. Thus marked the beginning of 2004. Sure enough, in March, I found out I was pregnant. I knew it was going to happen.

So many things happened in 2004. Family members passed away. Other family members drifted apart and I learned to be ok with that. Still other family members have grown closer together. Tj's forged a bond with his brothers and father that he hasn't had for years. He's the favorite uncle. I think this is also because of the baby in my belly.... on the other hand, my grandmother is more distant from me than ever. We never really got along all that well, and especially not so since my grandfather died. Most especially not so since my mother asked her siblings for help in taking care of her - she'd bought my grandmother a house, was cooking for her almost daily, looking after her - all this in spite of the fact that she's a very independent and able woman who can easily fend for herself. My mom's siblings, one of whom is an administrator in her local school district, and another who is a lobbyist for NOW, claimed they couldn't afford to help. My mother is a SAHM and my father is a teacher.

I think 2004 was about interpersonal relationships and how they affect me. That must be it. Because after watching my mother go through all of that with her family for the last couple of years... and after attempting to maintain contact with my grandmother, who at our last meeting said it was entirely up to me to keep her in my life and she wouldn't bother contacting me... I began to re-evaluate what certain people meant to me, and whether I needed their energies in my life.

I did a lot of writing-off.

There are people out there that I will always love unconditionally, but I will not allow myself to be hurt by them anymore. And watching them hurt themselves hurts me... watching them hurt themselves after they've come to me and said, "What do I do," and listening to them come back and say, "You were right" hurts me... but mostly just watching the same people make the same mistakes over and over and over again becomes a taxation on my own spirituality. I have had no spirituality that I'm aware of in 2004. That's ok though - I've been doing a lot of internal spring cleaning. I've re-evaluated my own priorities - not just in my interpersonal relationships, but in my own personal relationship.

i did a lot of welcoming home.

There are people out there that I will always love unconditionally, but I had to give them space to grow into the people that I knew that they would eventually become. Sometimes, the best way to love a friend is from afar. I have always let my friends know that I will always be there for them when the situation calls for it, no matter how much I may like or dislike them at that moment. And then I kept my distance b/c they were one influence, at the time, that I didn't need much of. And now that they've grown, I've found that I need their influence a little more as time goes by.

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#7 of 24 Old 12-07-2004, 01:44 PM
 
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Isn't failure what we're afraid of the most? Or maybe it's just me. I read somewhere that it is how you pick yourself up from failure that determines your ability to succeed, or something like that. What comforting words. It's okay to fail. I can breathe.

If I don't make it to the end of this page, if my mind is completely black and the words won't come, have I failed? That depends, doesn't it?

My whole life failure has been chasing me, keeping me running, biting at my heels. Wouldn't want to let anybody down. Make the grades, do the chores, dust the furniture exactly the way they showed you, how they did it before you, or didn't. Do it the way it is expected of you and you are a good girl.

When I was in high school I began to experiment with failure. The way I say this makes it sound like a planned scientific venture. Maybe in its own way, it was. I began to see failure as a true option, to embrace the enemy, the dark side, to dare go against what everybody wanted of me and invite death in for a cup of tea. I refused to do work. I kept secrets. I did things I had to keep secret or they might find out how close to the edge I was walking. Since then, I've cringed at the girl I was, but perhaps I need to give myself more credit.

In my first marriage I was afraid of failure, of letting him down, of being left alone. And look what happened there, in that marriage that consisted of a small avalanche of failures each day. I got to the edge and jumped. Then went on to crusade against my own failure, never looking back. I wouldn't fail, couldn't. I gave up nights of sleep and years of my life to accomplish something difficult and meaningless, all with that hungry failure-shark swimming around me.

I was exhausted, unhappy, uninspired.

Failure, my friend and enemy, driving me, draining me. Who have I failed? Who can I fail? What is failure but simply the inability to forgive and a lack of patience? Relax, try again, and this time, remember to have fun.
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#8 of 24 Old 12-07-2004, 07:30 PM
 
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Who can tell you what failure is? Isn't it different for everyone? How many people would look at us selling our large home to move to a place 1/3 the size in a worse neighborhood and automatically assume we had failed; when in fact, this wasn't even a necessity--just a means to obtaining something more important to us.

How many people would look at us two years ago after the loss of 2/3 of our income--selling off all of our assets to stay in our house and say we had failed. The fact that we HAD those assets TO sell and that we stayed here is success to me.

How many people would look at the fact that we don't speak to my husband's parents or my mother and think that our family was a failure when in fact, our family is all the stronger and healthier for removing toxic people from our lives no matter who they are.

Likewise, how many people look at the size of our home and automatically think we are wealthy--which they equate with success? Being in our home is a success for us, but they are right for all the wrong reasons.

Who exactly imposes failure on us? How do the definitions get so mixed up. How is it that so many people viewing the same thing can see it so differently--with some seeing these things as failure and others as success? Is it their perspective? Or ours? Is it their ignorance to the details behind what they are only seeing on the surface? Or our comparison to a standard--internal or external?

There are many people in the world that never see failure--only learning and evolving. I strive for this. For as much as the world would look at my life and see failures and successes by it's own definitions, I only see success through the opportunity to learn from the unfortunate events and ensuring they never happen again. For me, that only equates to success.

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#9 of 24 Old 12-08-2004, 12:28 AM
 
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hope.

Hope is the only thing that keeps us floating in the face of fickle fortunes. A new car, a new job; a car stolen, a job lost. Starting back to school, struggling each month with choices between rent and tuition and so many other things we need that keep getting put off and put off.

We hope things will get better. We hope we'll come up with the rent from somewhere, somehow, and that we'll still be as we are, at least.

Hope that the hole doesn't get any deeper? Have we found rock bottom yet? No? Keep digging.

2004 has been about despair. Moods bob between the two, and only persistent, perhaps foolish hope, keeps despair from turning into desperation.

I am a creature of plans, but if I hadn't learned it already, 2004 has taught me that making plans is pointless. You plan to go somewhere? Somebody's child is ill so it's canceled. You plan to start creeping back out of that hole? There's Fortune with her mallet, ready to beat you down like a hapless puppet in a game of Whack-a-mole. So I make contingency plans. Worst-case-scenario is my game now.

And somehow, having a plan for what I'll do if it gets worse makes me feel better about it not getting better. Because I no longer dare plan on things getting better. At least I won't feel so bad if I never get to execute the plan for what to do if we get evicted, or what to do if I can't register for my first choice of classes because I couldn't pay tuition on time.

And perhaps I'm learning to live with out plans. 2004 has been about enjoying the moment, because only when focusing on the moment is there anything worth enjoying. It doesn't matter how much gloom and doom is on the horizon when your tunnel vision holds only a child's first steps or the fun of counting rocks.

2004 has been about realizing that even the bad times are good times compared to the lot that has been handed to others. It has been a year of many blessings. We have our health and I am inundated by constant reminders that other people care, at least one for every reminder that many other people don't.

2004 has been a year of stubborn pride. I'm pretty sure that's the only thing keeping my marriage together at this point. Two children of divorce, not wanting to repeat the mistakes of their parents, stubbornly trying to make it work in the face of all odds.

2004 has been a year of tolerance. A quality I had thought I had in abundance I found lacking in myself. I lost friends because of it and I continue to suffer for it on a daily basis.

2004 has been a year of patience. I thought I learned patience in the Navy, but the Phoenix Metro bus system has taught me that to be in a hurry only stresses me out needlessly.

FEEDBACK ALWAYS WELCOME

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#10 of 24 Old 12-08-2004, 01:03 PM
 
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an age of discovery

As I discover how to be a mother
as I leran patience, and a new form of love, as I discover my heart,
I discover how to let go of the vices that have held me: anger, impatience, volcanic eruptions, as I breath as I live I discover a new me
as my baby dicoverys toddlerhood, childhood, independence
and a world of words, of songs, of numbers, and letters
of everything having a name

WE evolve, we discover the future

we discover the world her for the first time me for the millenth
I see squirells I never saw before, and the abundnace of birds is amazing. I get down close to the grass and smell that earthy smell as i introduce my Daughter to the things i have loved. we lay with the itchy grass against our skin and look through the tree brnaches to the sky above. we see the layers that make up our world.

I have seen this all before clearly. I have always held that odd appreciation that only children seem to understand, yet I am able to discover it again tyo watch her discover it. To see her smiles and hear her giggle which is more of a happy squeil. And she can name it all and i will teach her.


END________________________________________


2004 has been

concerning my husband it hasn't been about discovery it's more a a backslide that I can't explain. In all honesty it is more I then him, all me maybe. He hans't changed, I've just become angry. I've hit that place where I am so comfertable with him. I've turned into the person I was when I was 16. Angry, snappy, pissed off. and I can't explain it at all because I don't know why I am angry. It just is and how can you not know that?
and sometimes I wonder if I am trying to ruin our marriage, if I am trying to push him away. I've told him I think this is what's going on. I told him to wait because I am going to figure it out. The amount of patience this man has is amazing. The amount of sh*t he can take is amazing. I love him. We have our good times, and then 20 minutes later I am yelling at him, berating him and I don't know why, and as the words pour out of my mouth i want to stop and I can't and I wonder

" Is this the way it was for my father?"

Then I apolagize, and then it happens all again. And I am doing what I detest hurting, apoalagizing and then doing it all over again. I have turned into my father. Not the good part, but the part I hate. The part that made me angry to begin with.

I will overcome some how I will that is what I will do in 2005 I will be a conquerer! I have discovered and now I wil conqeur.

Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!

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#11 of 24 Old 12-08-2004, 07:38 PM
 
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2004 has been about growth and change: learning how to adjust, learning patience, when to let go, and move on. 2004 has been about Tanner’s very first year of life, Ian’s second (he just turned 3), and my thirtieth (now 31 .

I learned how to manage my grandmother’s affairs this year. Basically, I just had to learn how to let go of control, organize what I could, and wait out the rest. I had to accept that she is so sick and accept that she has been in a nursing home this whole blessed year.

The first year of Tanner’s life Dec. 18 2003-Dec. 18 2004…oh my, he started laughing, sitting up, rolling, combat crawling, crawling, pulling up, cruising, and then to toddling and now he is running from me!, and climbing and sliding up and down the steps! I can hear him now : ah wa wa, ahhh. My heart jumps (almost out of my chest, down into my belly) with happiness and fright simultaneously at the stunts he is pulling. He is happiness walking. Ian went from a toddler to a full-on boy this year. It breaks my heart and makes me blissful at the same time. I just take a deep breath, and tell myself, “let go” as I watch Tanner fly down the stairs on his belly, and see Ian climb to new heights, as well, in every facet of his life. He has become an artist, he can sing songs. I love his voice.

This year I am continuing to learn how to control my anger. When my hormones were raging with a newborn and my toddler was raging with all the changes in our household that a baby brings, it was very, very rough…Fortunately, I kept Ian from accidentally killing Tanner (this is no small feat with an extremely active 2 year old!) It is so much easier now that he is almost as big as his brother and can pretty much fend for himself. We worked it out, and are still working on it. The dynamics are better. I’m still making peace, not spanking any more (it fueled my anger and did nothing for discipline--it made us all feel like a pile of shit), and am now learning how to be playful, patient, and compassionate.

When my husband went to Switzerland for the summer and I stayed here in the good ol’ US of A with the kids, I learned how to travel around like a gypsy woman and keep us safe and secure. I valued my husband (and resented him) and gained a newfound respect for single mothers after that. I also gained a newfound respect for myself. I know that I can take care of my self and my babes without him. But, I was very lonely, it was like a part of me was missing. My heart broke when Ian asked for his daddy and I couldn’t even begin to count out the days for him that it would take to bring him home. I was so thankful that at least he was coming home and that he wasn’t fighting some war some where in some godforsaken place. And then when he got home, after a week or so of changing poopey diapers, he forgot that he was gone for so long and started complaining again and being his usual selfish male self. It is painfully apparent that I carry the weight. He may make the money, but I make the home. The balance is very precarious. After six weeks away, we then left home again, this time all together for a business trip. Upon return, I was ready to get home and rebuild the nest.

I claimed the house back from the cat, reorganized, and made a space to create away from the clutter of toys, art supplies, and the paper trail. My computer is now in the front room which is kept, for the most part, neat and uncluttered. This clear space has allowed me to breathe and create. Even though the rest of the family uses it, it still feels like I have made a “room of my own.”

2004: I am deep in the trenches of it. And have had the full realization that mothering is my sanity, my insanity, my zen master teacher…my saving grace.
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#12 of 24 Old 12-09-2004, 01:29 PM
 
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Failure....how can there be failure when you learn, it's not failure it's simply a mistake something that can be fixed, it's only failure if you fail to fix your mistakes.
How can you fail at life? You'll fail at life if you do not live, and by living I mean having a family not just those born to you but those that you make a part of your family, by loveing those that others won't, by befriending the friendless, by forgiving those that have done you wrong.
You also live by learning, learning new things everyday, by teaching those you can and learning from them in return. So do we fail if we don't wright for 15 or 20 minutes?? Even though we may have learned alot about ourselves.....

Please post some feedback.
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#13 of 24 Old 12-09-2004, 11:47 PM
 
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I've failed many times. I've failed many times in a day, in an hour even. I've failed to be present or to address the situation at hand... I've failed to have compassion for myself, and for others. And then the failure ends, when I make the realization, when I find the resources, when I turn toward ...

One false step
toward

….

An insistent buzz
a background hum
distracting distractions
uproarious interruptions
a pitter-patter: splat
a toss a lob a throw
a clinker-clat
a hook into my heart
and a tug to shore
I open my eyes and
look down:
I see my son

I see myself
accompanied
the proverbial child at my skirt hem
my attention split
partly here
partly not-here

chalkboard scratchings
little fingernails
my legs in a bear hug
I stand, isolated and surrounded
a captive in my own kitchen
to my own heart
the tugging reminder
of fish hook and line
binding us, cording us together
still

I am a mother

still

I am a mother

still

I am a mother

still

I am a mother, be-
coming

around and around again
the carousel ride of
manic joy
tinselly tedium
terror and grace

I gather myself in
bend down to my captor
and say:

Yes.

look him in the eye
meet him face to face

I bend down to my tiny captor
reluctantly open the
door to my heart
Here, I say, work
your hook in a little more deeply,
please.

I’m in it for the long ride, how can I resist?
The whirl-twirl
and twisting crank
of my heart turning
inside out

It’s not as bad as it sounds,
really, it’s quite beautiful

a transform-dance in my
very own kitchen
the creation-spot
for so many women
around the world, spun,
since the beginning

a tug-o-war, really
me and my kid

Who do you think will win?
Just who do you think I am rooting for?

My body has housed you.
My heart is your quarry.
There is no need for the hook, really.
We’re bound.


Bound up entwined, my child and I
an awkward sentry of togetherness.

Hobbled with need.
Smoothed with giving.

So I do it: I bend down,
and give.

Again, still,
I become a mother.

© 2004 Stacy M. Lewis
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#14 of 24 Old 12-10-2004, 02:00 AM
 
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What do I know about life? Only what I have learned so far. I have learned that there is no failure in trying unless a lesson is not learned in the failing.

Change is a part of life. The moment one gets comfortable and takes anything for granted is the moment everything changes. Accepting change leaves you open for new growth. Fighting change is futile and causes one to become stagnant. Change is evolution.

An open heart and an open mind are the greatest strengths to possess, neither of which come easy.

Love does not heal all, but the ability to love is healing to oneself. As is the capacity to forgive.

When representing one's self, there is no sense in pretending to be something other than who you are. You will only attract people who are drawn to what you are portraying rather than who you truly are, which is a waste of time and energy.

We are all a part of one divine being. We are all connected to eachother and to the world around us. When we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. When we hurt the earth which nurtures us, we hurt ourselves.

We are all born with an inner voice, our intuition. Many of us ignore or second-guess that voice, but it must be heard. The truth lies within us all. We just need to become quiet and listen, and we need to have faith in ourselves. To believe in ourselves.

I really know only a few things for certain. These are the things that have been constant in my life. With many things, I feel that I know without a doubt that they are one way or another, but life tends to open another door, rearrange everything, and I gain a whole new perspective. Thus evolution continues.

"The best things in life aren't things."

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#15 of 24 Old 12-10-2004, 03:45 AM
 
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I looked failure hard in the face this week.

My memory of two nights ago--standing in the kitchen, dark outside, and the air is buzzing. Literally. The floor looks like it's crawling and everything is too loud. I scold my daughter for dragging a piece of paper across the floor. The sound threatens to shatter my very bones.

Everyone needs a piece of me. The baby fusses unless he's in my arms, and then he wants to nurse...to suck on me until I'm all dried up. My 4 year-old contemplates my direction and staunchly refuses to comply. Eight-year-old complains every five minutes. My belly hurts. My throat hurts. And I want to grasp her by the shoulders and say yeah, well my head hurts and I haven't been alone, truly sweetly ALONE in forever.

I am two people. I am four people. I am five.

The oldest lives in his oblivion--the world in his head, sweetly unaware of the necessary tasks I lay at his feet. His backpack and trumpet case lie innocently askew in the middle of the floor by the front door. He tracks mud across the new rug and then looks at it blankly as though wondering, truly, where did that come from? If he even sees it at all. And mostly, when I call his attention and he descends from the clouds, however briefly, he flashes me his huge, heart-melting grin, and I don't have the strength to tell him, again, that he's being oblivious and I'm tired of it. Again.

I had a real Calgon moment today. I went into the bathroom, ostensibly to pee, and found myself locking the door with such a feeling of joy as I haven't felt in ages. They'll never get me in here...I thought. I faced the mirror and recalled that commercial--the frustrated mom, a montage of her psychotic life swirling behind her in all its graphic, overwhelming glory, as she pleads to the camera--to you, to me, to anyone out there....Calgon, take me away! As if. I pee, slowly, relishing the space that yawns around me. I muse on the fact that I forgot something--to plug the video camera in so it can charge up in time for Soren's very first band concert tonight--and hang my head. I'd been meaning to do that all day. One little detail, constantly slipping away from me. Feeling like a mountain. I saw myself in my mind's eye, walking from one end of the house to the other trying to remember such little details, small things, really, with such large implications. I try to order my steps from here, to there, to maximize efficiency and keep my train of thought ordered. Mostly I drift, on days when the noise rises. I have found myself standing in the middle of an empty room, staring at the wall, wondering, what...was...I...doing?
My brain stalls and skips on small things--the disjointed lyrics to a song I don't much care for;
Wasting away again in Margaritaville...
searching for my lost shaker of saaaalt...
and the word salt sounds, in my head, like Sa-uh-aaaalt...
Or a particularly strange line of words I recently read...
The PNG format is a completely lossless file compression...
Lossless...I ponder that word as I move through my house, through my life. And I think, almost without emotion, about the concept of my brain leaking out my ears.
Honey, my brain is leaking out my ears, I imagine telling my husband.
Oh, would you get that? I think it's part of my brain.
Oh certainly, children, I can be your smiling, agreeable bump on a log--I'll just sit here until my brain leaks out my ears....

And as I walk aimlessly through the house, I half expect to look over and see my brain, all marinated and ready to throw in the oven. To serve up to the expectant faces of my family, cheerfully. Agreeably.

And would you like ketchup with that? Use your napkin! Brains stain if they get on your shirt. Here, let me help you! It's squishy, huh? But oh so good for you. Try one little bite, that's all, and then if you don't like it I'll make you a nice sandwich....

Ah yes, failure. I feel like sinking into the parquet as I stand in the kitchen watching the floor squirm. And the air snaps around me, full of sensation and chaos...that rolls over me, threatening to steal me away.

And I still haven't started cooking dinner.
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#16 of 24 Old 12-10-2004, 01:45 PM
 
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This is to be read aloud the way the African Storyteller lady does

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A FEW WORDS BEFORE YOU GET STARTED. WELL READING THIS YOUR VOICE SHOULD FLUCTATE LOUDER THEN SOFTER LIKE THE OCEAN INFLECTION AND EMOTTION WELLING AND GROWING STRONGER.

I would really like feedback on this poem as I have plans for it. suggestions, spelling, grammer, and your intial response to it.



THE SUN OUTSIDE


my daughter PLAYS, MY DAUGHTER PLAYS
she CLIMBS LIKE A MONKEY
like her MONKEY MOMMA
she is from MY FLESH
GROWN in MY WOMB
From LOVE
she is like her FATHER
like her MOTHER
LIKE HERSELF
SHE is the CULMINATION of GENERATIONS
of LOVE HATE LAUGHTER SPITE JOY and FUN
SHE is the WORLD THE FUTURE
my daughter
in her CAR SHE IS
her FATHER'S DAUGHTER
she is her GRANDFATHER, HER GREAT GRANDFATHER
SHE IS CONNECTED
MY DAUGHTER inquisitive child
instead of CRYING when she
CAME INTO THIS WORLD
SHE looked around
she is the new SCIENTIST
she is the ancient
discoverer
explorer
TOUCHING TASTING SEEING
SHE IS EVERYCHILD
my daughter
The camper
the cavewoman
THE SMILING FACE
digging in the dirt
piling moving
she is the ARCHITECT THE LABORER THE FARMER
she is my past
she is her aunts her uncles her grandparents
MY DAUGHTER
the artist the paint
on her face
fingers MOLDING FORMING SKETCHING
a line
she is DaVinchi, Matisse, Pollack
and O'Keefe
MY DAUGHTER the masterpiece
The future,the past


herself

Courtney and Cree, baby made 3, added one more then there were 4, sakes alive, then we had 5, another in the mix now we have 6!

A Momma in love with her Little Women-Jewel Face, Jo Jo Bean, June Bug, and Sweet Coraline.

 

 

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#17 of 24 Old 12-12-2004, 12:45 AM
 
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Failure:

It was my discovery. Yes, there was a hint in the scientific literature, an obsucre paper by a specialist in a technique of microscopic photography the technical name of which I can no longer remember, was she an autoradiologist? Based on this hint, I had an idea. I told my mentor that this was the area I wanted to spend my year studying.

This was my year to learn about research, to decide if research was to be part of my future. I'd never done research. In the accelerated college medical school program I attended, completing 8 years in 6, what was lost, was the chance to do research. Now, in my second fellowhip, during my hiatus from private practice, I was going to learn about research, and about myself. What were the methods, and would this be something I'd want to devote my career to?

I told my mentor I absolutely did not want to participate in his cat research, and ideally I wanted to use animals that had already been used by someone for something else, because I didn't want new research animals bred and purchased with my karma. I have to say, this was the most humane cat lab I'd ever imagined. He used about 6 cats per year, not very many in the neurology research world. The cats were anesthetized for anything that might be painful, and when they were done with the studies, they were all adopted by the lab or janitorial staff, who cared for them quite lovingly while they were in residence. Still, I was pleased when my mentor said that I could use the rats from the pregnancy analgesia studies, who were no longer useful once they delivered a few times.

So I went to the lab several times a week, and handled the rats so they'd be accustomed to me when I did the research. Other times, I went to the library, to decide what I wanted to study. When I came upon it, my mentor suggested a model I could use. It was a new model just developed at the NIH. It looked like a promising model to use in the study of my proposed specialty area. Peripheral Opiate Receptors.

When it was my turn to give the monthly research meetings, I put up the notice, talk on Ectopic Opiate Receptors. And I put a subheading that the presentation would be on opiate receptors outside the central nevous system.

I was stopped in the hall by many people. “There's a typo on your conference announcement: it says you're talking about opiate receptors outside the CNS. Everyone knows they only exist in the CNS.” Come listen, I said, quite flirtatiously. I walked the halls those day, high on knowing that I knew more about something than anyone else in the world. I loved the ivory tower and it's secrets.

By then I had gathered a few more papers, enough to convince my audience that there was something to what I was saying. I traveled to the NIH, and talked to someone doing related work. I worked on the rat model. It was horrible.

I had to anestheize the rats and then make an incision on the thigh. I had to tie a loose ligature around the sciatic nerve. Close, let the rat wake up, and I should have a model of nerve injury that caused mild annoyance but no significant distress. My rats started chewing off their hind legs. I spoke to a young post-doc who worked for the researcher whose model I was using. He said I must have made the ligature too tight and caused numbness of the feet, causing the rats to not recognize them as their own. I was sure I made the ligatures loose, and he couldn't convince me the rats were not in pain. I ethanized them. I tried making the ligature looser but had the same problem. Not with all the rats, but the ones that didn't chew their feet off still did not behave as expected according to literature on the model.

I spent hours in the dark room that my animals shared with the pregnant rats, who needed a long night cycle. The back of my nose never stopped itching from the smell of the bedding of wood shavings wet with urine, little rat feces, and rat chow. I went about my work, it seemed like all I did was get soaked in rat urine. I got no useful data, and I did not question my hypothesis, I questioned the value of the nerve ligation model.

I called the post-doc in Bethesda again. He invited me out again to visit his lab. He observed me perform the surgery, he said my technique was perfect. He then came to visit my lab. After that visit, he quit working in the NIH lab. Apparently there were problems with the model and he did not want to devote any more time to it.

The end of my year came and I was offered a job at the institution. I loved the place, and in a meeting, the chairman offered me the opportunity to stay on, but the job he offered was not in my subspecialty. I did not want to give up my subspecialty after all the work I'd done to train in it. I felt weary and heavy as I went to the lab right after my talk with the chairman, hoping to find my mentor to talk to. It was early evening and everyone had gone home except Haramitsu from Japan. He has been assigned to be my surgical assistant, and even though he spoke hardly at all, his smirks, scowls, and grunts made it clear on a daily basis that he found it insulting to work with a woman, much less assist her.

I ignored his arrogant posturing as I sat flipping through my research documents. I didn't look at them, what I really wanted to do was hold my head and cry, but if I looked toward my papers I didn't have to make eye contact with the strutting one. If I was trying to to cry, looking at the paper proof of my year's work wasn't going to help.

If I want to stay with this, then my only choice is to take that job. It did not escape me that the chairman gave no promise of ever moving into my subspecialty. I did not know that the co-director of the section I wanted to work in considered me overly intimidating and said she would not have me on a permanent basis. They listened to her, even though she was no shining star, because she brought in a lot of money.

The door to the rat room opened and another Japanese guy came out. Hiro. He gave me his usual big smile and walked to the office where his computer was. I felt a pang at the thought of letting to of my peripheral opiate receptors. Before the door to the rat room closed, I got a waft of wood chip-urine-feces-rat chow. I thought about spending another several years in that room. Was there some other methodology I could use? I'd have to learn something completely different. Another 6 months learning, then time developing, and I'd already been burned by a supposedly ideal model that turned out to be nothing.

Now I think of the Christine Lavin song about realizing how awful her dress was once she spotted herself in the mirror at the event she wore it to. What was I thinking? I'm a clinician. I really came to this institution to learn a clinical subspecialty. I was sufficiently driven that I left a high paying job to do it. The research was extra. But it's not what I ever meant to do. That night I wrote a letter to the chairman thanking him for his consideration but rejecting the position. I ended up finding a great position that suited me perfectly – elsewhere – with no research responsibilities. A few months later my big publication resulting from my years work came out: a short letter authored by my me, Haramitsu, the post-doc, and my mentor, to the editor of the major professional journal, describing shortcomings of the rat sciatic nerve ligation model.

Many years later I sat in a meeting with Dh, listening to a presentation following the keynote address. My autoradiographs, my discoveries, and good research by the speaker proving to the audience that I was right. Not that anyone knew it was I who was being proven correct. Except Dh, who sat squeezing my hand.

Now, when medical students learn about the body's opiate system, they get most of their information not during the nervous system lectures, but in the gastrointestinal lectures. They learn about opiate receptors as being primarily outside the central nervous system. I knew it I knew it I knew it. And they behave as I said they would to, becoming more active in certain disease states than in a healthy person.

Every now and then I run into another mentor who took me under his wing, at a meeting, a notorious character in the field, thought by some to be an innovator and others to be overly driven by money. He's both won and lost respect because of these things, both of which he is. He's charismatic anyway, usually surrounded by an audience. I'll go over and greet him, and he'll introduce me as the real discoverer of peripheral opiate receptors. Everyone laughs, like they're on the outside of some inside joke and don't want to admit it.

Dh asked if I have any regret at walking away.

All this seems like a big failure in my life, to many who would hear the story, but not necessarily to me.



No matter what anyone else does or says, those peripheral opiate receptors are mine mine mine!
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#18 of 24 Old 12-12-2004, 11:46 AM
 
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When I was ten years old, my mother took me to an audition at a fancy hotel in Miami. In a corner of the dimly lit ballroom, we huddled together strategizing my next move. As the other girls downed syrupy throat preparations, I hummed quietly into my chest, taking in my mother’s analyses of each elimination round. She knew who was connected to whom, whose daughter had summered with the producers in Palm Beach, which girl’s father had made a hefty donation to the theater. It was her job to know these things, along with managing wardrobe, transportation, stomachaches, and disappointment. My father’s job was honing the talent, using his decades of experience in the music industry to craft a superstar.

Every parent believes her child is special. My parents believed I was exceptional. It wasn’t far fetched, really. The family was full of exceptional people. Actors, concert pianists, violinists, horn players. My father himself was a big band leader in the 40s, part of a hit Do-Wop group in the 50s, and an accomplished jazz pianist. Our first cousin is a world-famous opera singer. From the moment I sang Zippity-Doo-Da in my booster seat, it was determined that I had the gene. The performance gene. The sacrifice gene. The success gene.

The problem was, I didn’t always succeed.

<baby break> -------------------------------------------------------------

My father turned eighty last month. We celebrated his birthday at an elegant restaurant reserved for special occasions. It was the first family gathering since my mother’s funeral almost a year ago. The once boisterous band leader, full or jokes and stories about life on the road, was quiet through his birthday dinner. While my sister cut his meat, he nodded politely in each speaker’s direction, pretending to hear.

For as long as I can remember, my father has marked the passing of day into night with a single martini at 4:00. When I was a little girl, he taught me how to make one, extra dry with a cocktail onion. I’m sure I was the only kid in my seventh grade glass to know the difference between a Manhattan and a Gimlet. I took great pride in making my father’s martini, carefully shaking to avoid bruising the ice, then waiting for the approving “Ahhh” after his first sip and the inevitable offer to taste my excellent handiwork.

After mom died, my sister enrolled him in a senior center. A place to eat meals and socialize with other seniors, maybe watch a movie or listen as someone read the paper. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and he hadn’t protested. But more than six months had passed, and he still hadn’t gone. “Why don’t you check out that senior center, dad?” I asked him on the eve of our flight back to Boston, “We all need some contact with the outside world. We’re social animals, after all.” I played the science card. Nothing personal. “It’s not my style,” he answered, coolly. He kept his gaze forward, focused on some distant object.

I looked around the room. What was his style? The open plan kitchen and living room bore my mother’s decorating mark. Along the main wall, a tall formica unit displays the relics from their life together. Hand-blown glass from a hidden shop in Venice. Pinted wooden shoes from the Dutch flea market. A motley crew of tiny figures at tiny instruments deep in the throes of performance.

A pink leather sofa divides old from new, separating my father from his past and his passion. Behind it, the century-old piano stands neglected and out of tune. After several moves, his collection of musicalia has been distilled down to a single corner where silk plants and ceramic animals mix uneasily with a bust of Puccini, an antique phonograph, and an original Bach manuscript. Where once a grand piano dominated, now a large screen television fills the room.

“If you’re going to sit and watch TV all day, you could at least do it with other people,” I spewed, exasperated. I half expected him to ignore me. We’d been through this before and I knew the drill. I knew the arrogant tone he would take when he told me he had nothing in common with those people. Those people. Those old, failing, idle people with their insipid stories about chronic pain and overachieving grandchildren. I knew the nervous rounds he would make in his scooter, looking for something important to do. Desperate to convince me that he was more than a shell on wheels. That in him still beat the heart of a singular impresario, an orchestra leader, a sought after writer and arranger of the best, most sophisticated language in the world—music.

He turned his small, steel gray eyes on me. “I’ve spent my whole life on the stage,” he said calmly, “And now you expect me to sit in the audience?”

Suddenly, everything made sense. My life. His. Our relationship. I saw all of my failures clamoring toward me like boulders down a hill. The auditions. Competitions. Trophies. Titles. Publications. Degrees. In seconds, all of my unfinished business spilled onto the floor in a loud, messy pile. I realized that my father’s success was not driven by an irrational desire for perfection as I’d always imagined, but by a selfish, insecure compulsion to be better than everyone else. This is my inheritance. My gift. But also my challenge. To embrace achievement and failure with equal fortitude. To free my voice from expectation and reward. Above all, to make contact.
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#19 of 24 Old 12-12-2004, 06:09 PM
 
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I wrote these Nov 9-15th and never posted them. I am starting to feel reconnected to the writing and wanted to share my goals with you all.

Thanks!

writing goals…

been avoiding this one. Hm, wonder why? I guess because writing again is so new right now that I just want to write. I am enjoying so much just getting things out and onto paper. Sometimes wondering, well, what will I DO with all of it but then trying to let that go for now.

My writing goals: to write. Is that too simple? That is honestly what I keep coming up with.



It’s been a week or more since I wrote my initial goal above and am feeling ready to add another: to develop a piece from its initial freewrite into a personal essay and/or research paper.

Some of the pieces I want to develop:
my birth story (home birth)
Dear Orlando
the post-partum period – creating rituals and support for new families
heterosexist parenting

I guess what goes hand in hand with this is developing the discipline and practice to do this. Giving myself time, not just finding the time to work but being patient about when these pieces might be done.

What is with all this soft-talk? Let’s try again:

My writing goals:

•to write
•to continue the free, uninhibited flow of writing that was happening prior to the “feedback starts now” week
•to cultivate focus and time for rewriting
•to develop my initial freewrites into personal essays (and/or research papers)
•to discover and enjoy publications out there where I might imagine my work
•to find a writing partner… (just realized this was a goal the second I wrote it down)
•to write, write, write, write

Pieces I want to develop:
•my birth story (home birth)
•Dear Orlando
•the post-partum period – creating rituals and support for new families
•Home

Pieces I want to write:
•Heterosexist parenting

Pieces for me:
•mom-dad-sick

And here my writing goals get all splintered… that is why for now I am going to focus on one:

to write!
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#20 of 24 Old 12-12-2004, 10:27 PM
 
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2004 has been about becoming a mother. Not just any mother, but dd’s mother. It has been about coming face to face with my own worst fears, with the loss of cherished dreams and the pain of a mangled past. It has been about stepping through those fears, over those dead dreams, and letting go the past to finding life more beautiful on the other side.

The thing is I never had the courage to face my devils or my dreams before. Being a mother changed that. Before now I was the queen of self sabotage; I’d take my self so far towards a desired goal and then trash it. I’d let myself get just close enough to know that it was really possible and then fail in some glorious and creative manner. 2004 is about letting myself succeed because I can’t look into dd’s eyes and let myself fail. When I see her trust, her joy, her wisdom I know that my failure is false. I know that I am not the sum total of my failures or my successes, I am not my past or my hopes: I am most importantly dd’s mother. Not that being a mother is my entire making either but it is the most dominate force in my world.

Being a mother has changed me down to the core of my being, it has released my soul more than being “born again” ever did. I am a creative goddess, I am a giver of life. I am the source of nourishment, the comforter, the haven of safety and warmth. I am a mother. I am teacher and student; I am master and novice; I am perfect and imperfect and yet not conflicted. For the first time since I can remember, I am quite sure of who I am.

2004 has been about discovering the joy of a running faucet in a bubble bath, about finding the wonder in the barking of a dog. It is the year I dared to write music again. I also dared to give my heart over to another human being with abandon and found that it returns to me threefold. 2004 has been the year of becoming a mother.
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#21 of 24 Old 12-12-2004, 10:56 PM
 
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“I am such a failure!”
This phrase has been my mother’s mantra for years.
“Just look at my children, I tried so hard to do everything right and all I did was fail.”
It is pointless to point out all the things her children have succeeded in doing because the one thing we have all failed to do is validate her worth and her choices. We can never be good enough.

My mother once told me that with all my musical talent I would make a great music minister’s wife. I am neither a professional musician nor married to a minister so my life is not much of a success story. Things looked up a bit when I went to join the Navy, but I enlisted rather than go officer in order to get the program that I wanted and that was a bit of a disappointment.

I’ve always been a disappointment really; refusing to “apply” myself to get straight A’s, which I did in college once but since “I wasn’t walking with the Lord” it didn’t mean a thing. I left conservatory after one year, much to her chagrin, and chose to attend an Ivy League University instead. My parents wouldn’t pay for me to attend a “pit of humanism”. So I found a way to get myself through. This again was a demonstration of her “failure to impart the importance of remaining under the protective umbrella of my father’s authority until I married and was under my husband.”

I am a failure; I am never good enough. Somewhere along the way I learned this mantra for myself. It was re-enforced every time I didn’t make an audition, every time a lover left me, every time I went above a size six. I learned to criticize every inch of my body and ounce of my mind. I learned that is was easier to be harder on myself than let anyone else find a fault I hadn’t.

Part of me strove for failure because I was never wanted my mother to be wrong. I desperately wanted her to be right, for her not to be a failure and for me to be the problem. I was afraid that if I did prove her wrong once and for all it would be the unforgivable sin and I would never be allowed home again…………

(Have to finish this later)
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#22 of 24 Old 12-13-2004, 12:47 PM
 
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I know that you have to fall down many, many times before you can truly learn to do anything. It hurts to fall, and the healing hurts too. I know that the thrill, the sensation of falling is tantalizing: The fear, the rush, the biological response of our bodies is exhilarating. I know that if there wasn’t a risk it wouldn’t be near as fun. And when we do fall and hurt ourselves, the glorious skills and strength that we will hopefully gain makes all the falling worth it.

I know that I love my children with a deep, wild, primal energy. This energy infuses me and makes me strong--stronger than I was before. I know that I have more fear because of them, for them. I know that this fear will help to keep us safe. I hope that it will not immobilize me. I know that I must push beyond it, but always look around the corner, scope out the situation, watch my back and theirs.

I know that it’s ok to be bitter, mad, angry. It’s alright to rage if that’s what you have to do to heal. Anger is better than complacency. After the anger diffuses and trickles down…what is left? I know that in my core there is a pool of love. I visualize it in my belly and I see little drops of water falling into the pool coming from my heart center. I know that it is there.

Sometimes there is no action to be taken. This is the difference between letting go and control. Even if I take no action, there’s a difference between acceptance and denial. I accept that I can do nothing, I do not deny the existence of a problem. I face it and I let it go…

I know that I don’t want to be sick. I am striving for mental health and clarity, physical health, and well-being. I don’t know what I would do if I became very ill. Hopefully I would have the strength to face it, fight it, and let it go. Can you fight and surrender at the same time? Is this what I really know? In the face of death what do you know? When you see a child with cancer, what do you know? When you are the mother of a dying baby, what do you know? If your child were to die, what would you know? Would everything that I know disappear? Would the pool of love remain? I know that it if it were to evaporate, it would surely regenerate, because I know that life is continuous.
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#23 of 24 Old 12-13-2004, 01:20 PM
 
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2004 has been about learning, forgiving, opening. Opening a door to the next part of my life. There was the part before 2004 and there will be the part after. The part after the first learning and the forgiving.

I thought I knew what forgiveness meant until I placed myself in the palm of her hand, loosening my grip on myself, blending, ready to fall any direction she may choose to throw me. I placed myself there with love and with trust, in her that she would do no irreparable harm and in myself that I can heal from anything. I needed to show her, and show myself, what exactly trust was.

It had been three years since the fallout, or was it four? Or somewhere between. Three years of troubled dreams, of getting sick, of whispers and avoidances at family gatherings. Three years of feeling as if my old family home was not my own, a place I was no longer welcome to lie belly exposed in the wintersnow sunlight of those south facing windows. It was no longer a retreat from the world.

It was a battle zone, full of ugly rotting things, danger lurking at its edges.

I was afraid of her and the way I felt when she wouldn't speak to me. I have never been a confrontational person and when I come across a lion in my path I will skirt around it, invisible, avoiding its challenge and its eyes until I am safely in my own space once again, and can convince myself it was never there. This year I revisited that old path, the one I left for the comfort of the cold dark unknown of the woods. I revisited that lion and patted him on the nose. Breath held, I stretched my fingers out, ready for them to be bitten off, somehow trusting that they wouldn't be. She warmed to me. I laughed with her.

Way back when, in the days of tension and words unspoken, of icy glances and confused silent misery, just after the breaking, some of us said maybe someday we will look back at the whole thing and laugh. For several years I looked back at that statement, a fool's wish, and laughed. Never, I sighed, it's just not happening. We are from opposite planets; we don't speak one another's languages. This family is not healing. And yet it has.

One phone call. One finger, nervously dialing, hovering over the eight button that would finish the dialing process and put the call through. One trembling voice saying hello it's me, one uttered statement issued from –was that my voice? Was that me offering to actually fly down and visit at her house, in her domain, far from the safety of my own protected space? One plane ticket.

Two nights.

Three days.

Many drinks. Countless laughs and words and I have finally exhaled that breath caught in my throat. She is actually very much like myself, and also very different. Truth is, I like her.

On the plane home as Robert Jordan watched the fascists gather up the heads of people who were his friends, people he had known and trusted and drank with, I melted into the dingy plane seat and felt at peace. I mused on life and death, on grudges, forgiveness, and what it means to forgive. Does there have to be understanding in order to forgive? Because sometimes we don't understand; we come from different planets, different cultures, different sides of the mirror. No, there simply has to be a willingness to trust.
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#24 of 24 Old 10-03-2008, 11:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenfulmama View Post
I know that you have to fall down many, many times before you can truly learn to do anything. It hurts to fall, and the healing hurts too. I know that the thrill, the sensation of falling is tantalizing: The fear, the rush, the biological response of our bodies is exhilarating. I know that if there wasn’t a risk it wouldn’t be near as fun. And when we do fall and hurt ourselves, the glorious skills and strength that we will hopefully gain makes all the falling worth it.

I know that I love my children with a deep, wild, primal energy. This energy infuses me and makes me strong--stronger than I was before. I know that I have more fear because of them, for them. I know that this fear will help to keep us safe. I hope that it will not immobilize me. I know that I must push beyond it, but always look around the corner, scope out the situation, watch my back and theirs.

I know that it’s ok to be bitter, mad, angry. It’s alright to rage if that’s what you have to do to heal. Anger is better than complacency. After the anger diffuses and trickles down…what is left? I know that in my core there is a pool of love. I visualize it in my belly and I see little drops of water falling into the pool coming from my heart center. I know that it is there.

Sometimes there is no action to be taken. This is the difference between letting go and control. Even if I take no action, there’s a difference between acceptance and denial. I accept that I can do nothing, I do not deny the existence of a problem. I face it and I let it go…

I know that I don’t want to be sick. I am striving for mental health and clarity, physical health, and well-being. I don’t know what I would do if I became very ill. Hopefully I would have the strength to face it, fight it, and let it go. Can you fight and surrender at the same time? Is this what I really know? In the face of death what do you know? When you see a child with cancer, what do you know? When you are the mother of a dying baby, what do you know? If your child were to die, what would you know? Would everything that I know disappear? Would the pool of love remain? I know that it if it were to evaporate, it would surely regenerate, because I know that life is continuous.
wow, i can't believe i wrote that. it's great!
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